Table of Contents Author Guidelines Submit a Manuscript
Stem Cells International
Volume 2017, Article ID 7068567, 7 pages
Review Article

Mitochondrial Heterogeneity: Evaluating Mitochondrial Subpopulation Dynamics in Stem Cells

Laboratory of Aging and Infertility Research, Department of Biology, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115, USA

Correspondence should be addressed to D. C. Woods; ude.uen@sdoow.d

Received 13 February 2017; Accepted 3 May 2017; Published 5 July 2017

Academic Editor: Riikka Hämäläinen

Copyright © 2017 D. C. Woods. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Although traditionally viewed as the “powerhouse” of the cell, an accruing body of evidence in the rapidly growing field of mitochondrial biology supports additional roles of mitochondria as key participants in a multitude of cellular functions. While it has been well established that mitochondria in different tissues have distinctive ultrastructural features consistent with differential bioenergetic demands, recent and emerging technical advances in flow cytometry, imaging, and “-omics”-based bioinformatics have only just begun to explore the complex and divergent properties of mitochondria within tissues and cell types. Moreover, contemporary studies evaluating the role of mitochondria in pluripotent stem cells, cellular reprogramming, and differentiation point to a potential importance of mitochondrial subpopulations and heterogeneity in the field of stem cell biology. This review assesses the current literature regarding mitochondrial subpopulations within cell and tissue types and evaluates the current understanding of how mitochondrial diversity and heterogeneity might impact cell fate specification in pluripotent stem cells.